Haley Putpeng

When I was eight years old I remembered my father working on the roof of our country house in the Eastern Townships with his friend, Rob. I was obviously not allowed to go on the rooftop at such a young age but I do recall thinking how much I would love to have done and seen some the great things my father worked on in his life.

The other great memory of him was a picture I had seen of a traditional Buddhist Altar by the main roadside in Thailand going towards our small village of Phetchabun. He told me when he wanted to marry my mom he had to see a monk and spend some time with him and pay homage at the Buddhist temple. Having enjoyed his experience at the temple, he built an altar dedicated to his Buddha. My father gave money as well, and in return the Buddha took the money and paid some of the men to make a sign for the altar with my dad’s name, DAVID LEIN.

The opportunity to work for Habitat for Humanity had been more gratifying than I expected. We worked for 5 days on a vernacular house for a lovely woman who was grateful to have us there. It was a great experience to be part of something outside our personal circle. We met with our building coordinator, Roger Martinez, who has the biggest heart I have ever seen but was shy to say so. Our team became a family within 24 hours of our arrival in Taos, and we were happy to accept one another, and to help the lovely woman and her daughter with their home. I got the chance to do some roofing work as my father did and write my name on the structure as my father had.

During our stay in Taos, we visited the old pueblo town. We saw their humble homes that had a single bed at the back of the room. Many artists that worked at the front of their houses told us stories of their ancestors and explained the symbols in their crafts.

After Taos, we went to Los Alamos, to Bandelier Monument Park and there we climbed a canyon. The air was very thin and we felt our hearts racing as we walked towards the top. The view was spectacular and it was worth the climb even though our stay at the top of the canyon was short.

In the towns of Santa Fe and Albuquerque, we shopped at the Old Town Plaza. There were many artists there as well, and the quality of their crafts was great! Later, we visited two architectural firms, Archeo Architects ( in Santa Fe, where we met Barry, a passionate and sensitive architect.  In Albuquerque we went to Studio Southwest Architects Inc. We met with Robert Heiser and Shary Adams ( Ms. Shary Adams worked on the Club Monaco retail stores all over Canada before she decided to move to New Mexico as a permanent residence. She along with her colleagues are extremely easy going and happy in their career decisions.

It is sometimes hard to sum up an experience with a few pages of words. I return home and have been asked how I enjoyed my trip and I say that I had an AWESOME time, which I did, but little do people know how some aspects of an experience are indescribable and in order to really know it fully, we would have to try to walk in each other’s shoes. And these walks are memorable with each second that passes. I remember my dad telling me the story of his experiences at the Buddhist Altar and the look in his eyes as he told me that the feelings he had were indescribable. I am grateful to now have the opportunity to understand what he really meant.

“Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.”  - Kevin Arnold.